When we talk about mental health, oftentimes we mention the sufferer but I have hardly seen anyone talking about “the circle of people” someone suffering from depression can count on. No, I am not talking about a psychiatrist, I am talking about his/her friends, family, teachers, life partners or any other significant person in their life. If someone in your circle is going through depression, I know our natural response is to help them but I have seen people making it harder for the patients, only because they don’t know how to talk to a person not ready to open up. So you have to keep in mind 5 most important things about a depressed person in order to actually help them: A depressed person often times just want affection and not your advice. If someone is depressed, he /she thinks that their life is stagnant. They feel like they have been stuck in a place and they don’t know how to come out of the whirlpool of sadness. And this thought hits their consciousness, several times a day and when they feel helpless, they will either cry or take their anger out, using the coping mechanism they think can help them. If someone depressed is crying, give him /her a hug and tell them that they are not alone in this. You are with them and you are not going to give up on them. But I beg you, not to tell them what they should do until and unless they ask you to help them. Please don’t tell them how they should have done something or how they shouldn’t. That’s the last thing a depressed person wants to know. They need your affection, your kind words that they are finding it hard to tell their own selves. If they have given up on themselves, you need to tell them that you got them. That’s what they need. Don’t ask for a reason. When we want to help, we have a habit of knowing the cause of their sadness. And believe me when I say that a depressed person himself doesn’t know a single specific reason, most of the time. Depression doesn’t originate from a single cause. It’s multiple causes with a single cause acting as the last nail in the coffin and to their emotional breakdown. It’s quite likely that if you ask the reason for their sadness, you will find them confused or if they start telling the reason, it will all end with the sentence that they don’t think they are capable of helping their own selves. A depressed person finds himself helpless. And you don’t need to remind them of this helplessness by asking them the cause. If they are seeing a psychiatrist, he will tell you about the information (without breaching the confidentiality) you need to know for helping the depressed person. Otherwise just don’t ask the person himself. They will isolate themselves. Encourage them to be a part of social activities. Focus on the word “Encourage” I didn’t say force them because I promise you, that’s the last thing you want to do to a depressed person. It will only provoke them to be far more isolated. So try to encourage them to do their daily chores but don’t force. If you have a large group of friends, ask your friends to have fun when that friend is around. Your laughs might be the only good thing in their day. So involve your depressed friend in your fun activities and don’t leave them alone. The depressed person needs reaffirmation that this sadness will end. Tell them that they will get out of this. It’s a long journey but they will, slowly but surely win their life again. You might find your depressed person repeating the same phrases again and again that they don’t think they will ever be able to feel normal again. But that’s where you need to be patient and tell them that it will end. Remind them of good times. Take them out. Do what they loved to do. A depressed person might lose focus. If you ever had a depressed person in your life, you must know already that they lose their focus and interest in almost everything. What they used to love, will not entice them anymore. So it’s really important that you help them coming back to their life. Help them do their studies, job work or anything as much as you can. I am not asking you to put yourself in the second position because that’s not a good thing. All you have to do is understand that they will need your help and love, many times. Last but not the least, I know you want to help. But don’t blame yourself if you cannot make them feel okay instantly or even without the constant support of a month-long. You tried your best but you have to understand that depression is a serious mental health issue and it does not develop within a day… It works like a slow poison eating up your healing and working capacity. So the antidote that I mentioned above and the medicines are going to take some time. So be patient and be supportive.